Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Hiroshi Kashiwagi Interview
Narrator: Hiroshi Kashiwagi
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 1, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-khiroshi-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

EO: Well, let's see. We were, we better just pick up about the veterans, and your writing the play because if we want to use that then we should clarify which veterans...

HK: Yeah.

EO: You know, how... it's sort of going back to talking about this whole concept of keeping Tule Lake -- I mean, feeling, among the Japanese Americans, being in Tule Lake was like being in Folsom prison or something like that.

CO: I don't know, it's deeper than just plain prison. I don't know what it is...

EO: But, but I mean, it's, it's like we were all in camps, but then there were the good camps and there was the bad camp which was like being in --

HK: Yeah, right.

EO: San Quentin or some hard time prison, and that you're sort of stigmatized --

CO: Outcast.

HK: Yeah. You feel like an outcast, yeah. You, you keep a low profile all the time, and never being yourself. And I really felt that these people who stayed in the, in the communities in my old home, they kept a low profile. And they let the so-called "loyal" people run things, all these years. And I thought, "Oh my goodness, what a life they had." And even though I had some difficulties, I feel that it was mainly my own doing and that I feel guilty or something, but I wasn't under that kind of constraints, you know, I could be myself. And so that was pretty bad.

EO: And writing this play...

HK: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. So I was working on this play and it had to do with the loyalty question. And so, well actually, there was this couple, they fall in love in camp, and then they take opposing views. The fellow is opposed to the registration and the girl, who comes from the city, and has had a year or so of college, is more sophisticated, and has friends outside of camp and, who write to her, so that's an influence. And she, she tries to convince him that he should register and go out together. And they break up because of the registration, loyalty registration. And then years later, they meet again. This is forty years later. And meanwhile, they've had a life. They've married. She married a veteran, a Japanese American veteran, 442. And he married a girl in the town that he went to. And she, it turns out, really cared that he was a "no-no" and so it broke up their marriage. And she, on the other hand, though she married a veteran, has second thoughts about it. He suffers from his war experiences, has nightmares, and remembers the friend he lost in battle and so forth, and so that their marriage was not all that great. And she, by the time she comes to see him, feels that maybe, you know, she made the wrong decision, that they should have married.

But in writing this play, I wanted to get the veterans', Japanese American veterans', point of view. And I tried to arrange some interviews and I was told that the veterans would not speak to me, knowing that I was at Tule Lake. Now I wanted the whole picture and so I wanted to talk to a veteran, but I, I couldn't do that. So I talked to this guy who was also a veteran, but he was willing to talk and give a kind of... and in a way, I was able to find things. He said that when he was in camp, maybe he was already -- oh, he volunteered for the army, and his parents got very rough treatment from, from the people in camp, and especially this one person. And so he, after the war, he saw him on the street, and he says, "I would have really popped him if I had met up with him, but I crossed so that I wouldn't do that." So he was still very angry that this other fellow, who had been a "no-no," had done this to, to the parents. And he, of course, had every right to feel that way. But, yeah, so I was told that the veterans wouldn't want to talk to me. So I had to make it up. [Laughs] I did talk to a farm leader and I made this guy into a farm leader. So I interviewed Harry Kubo, and got a lot of information from him, although it's, the character is hardly, is not Harry Kubo.

EO: How many years has this, were you, when were you writing this play?

HK: Oh, about three years ago. Three or four years ago, yeah. So it's been in my mind for years and years. And I finally, I joined this Tale Spinners group that develops plays out of oral history interviews. And, although mine was not oral history, it was really interviewing myself, I finally was forced to write the play and I finished it.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.